NRDC Blasts Bush Plan to Increase Reliance on Coal; Group Says Increased Coal Burning Will Accelerate Global Warming

WASHINGTON (July 2, 2001) - Responding to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham's appearance today at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Kentucky coal power plant, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) blasted the Bush administration for its plan to increase U.S. reliance on coal to generate electricity.

"The Bush administration wants to allow dirty coal-fired power plants to increase their pollution dramatically," said David Hawkins, director of NRDC's Climate Center. "That would accelerate global warming, poison more of our water, scar more of our landscape, and kill more of our citizens with particulate air pollution."

The groundbreaking ceremony comes just two days after President Bush pressured Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to soften his support for the Kyoto climate accord. The pact cannot enter into force without the participation of either the United States or Japan. President Bush had already declared that he would not support it, effectively placing the treaty's fate in Koizumi's hands.

The new 524-megawatt power plant in Hindman, Kentucky, will use so-called clean coal technology, which generates significantly more pollution than natural gas-fired power plants and renewable energy sources, such as wind, biomass, solar and geothermal energy. The plant, which is expected to be in operation by 2004, will emit annually more than 1,000 pounds of mercury, a potent neurotoxin. By comparison, natural gas-fired plants and renewable energy sources emit no mercury.

"The term 'clean coal' is like saying 'safe cigarettes,' " said Hawkins. "There is no such thing." A recent NRDC report, Slower, Costlier and Dirtier: A Critique of the Bush Energy Plan, found that, according to federally funded research, the Energy Department's Clean Coal Technology Program has a mixed record of performance and shows little promise of yielding coal combustion technology cleaner than existing natural gas-fired combustion technology, let alone existing renewable electric generating technologies.

The NRDC report concluded that there is no justification for providing additional federal subsidies for developing clean coal technology, which "has shown few promising results" for an industry that is already highly profitable.

"The Department of Energy's own study found that energy efficiency and renewable power sources could satisfy as much as 60 percent of the projected demand for electricity over the next 20 years," said Hawkins. "The best way to get clean power is to set national limits on power plant pollution and let the coal industry compete on a level playing field against far cleaner alternatives, including natural gas and wind power."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages
Slower, Costlier and Dirtier: A Critique of the Bush Energy Plan
A Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century